Disagreement over end of tax exemptions for French Polynesian hotel developments
A public disagreement has erupted in French Polyensia over its Paris-based representative's call to end tax exemption for hotel developments.
A public disagreement has erupted in French Polynesia over its Paris-based representative Brigitte Girardin's call to end tax exemption for hotel developments.
However the French Polynesia's president, Gaston Flosse, says exemptions should stay to develop the sector as it is a key pillar of the economy, which is struggling after years of decline.
Walter Zweifel asked the publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, why Mrs Girardin made the call.
ALEX DU PREL: We don't really understand, because she made this statement, officially, in front of a commission of the French National Assembly and then it was published by a local paper who had a correspondent over there. Then Mr Flosse said 'No, no, no. She didn't say that. That was wrong'. But she said it - the record is there. And she started attacking the journalist of the local paper in Paris and saying 'Yeah, he should have asked first permission to write it and...' So we're in a conflict. And also especially since Mr Flosse's strategy to revive tourism is of course in building new big projects, he wants to make a little local Waikiki in Tahiti as in Moorea. And, as usual, this would be a tax write-off for French tax-writers, which means it would be financed by France. And so he went back - 'Oh, no, no. We need these tax deductions to attract foreign investors, otherwise we won't get any and so on'.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: Going back to Mrs Girardin, what was her logic by suggesting this tax exemption is apparently counterproductive?
ADP: I don't know. Nobody knows. She is furious, Flosse is furious and they're threatening law suits and everything, but nobody has understood, so it's still up in the air. Also, Madame Girardin, everybody says she's the representative of French Polynesia in Paris - not the case. She works in French Polynesia officially because she's paid in French Polynesia. If her job was in Paris then she would be paid French wages, which are much lower.
WZ: I understand there are questions surrounding her contract, from the point of view that she was apparently hired by the vice presidency, which apparently in line with the statute does not exist because of the presidency and assembly.
ADP: The problem is why does a vice president hire everybody and assign everything that has to do with money? Because Flosse has been condemned in a previous affair - the affair with the big victory celebration party that didn't happen - and he's not allowed to touch public money. So where Flosse before used to hire everybody, sign all the contracts and everything, he had to delegate his signature to his vice president.
WZ: I understand that according to the statute, the way French Polynesia is set up, the vice presidency does not exist - there's a presidency, an assembly and an economic council.
ADP: Yeah, but over here they're doing acrobatics with the law. Why? Because otherwise Mr Flosse cannot be president. If you have a president who cannot decide on money matters and cannot even sign a five-dollar cheque because he's barred by the law, then he cannot be president. So to circumvent that they just gave all the powers that have any relation to public funds to the vice president.
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